I've got to be honest with you: I'm not all that sorry to see 2018 go. Not that I really expect great things out of 2019 (my secret to happiness being, of course, low expectations), but it is nice to pretend through at least January or so that "YEAH! This'll be my year!"
One of the reasons I was not fond of 2018 was because my reading took a real hit. Between eye fatigue and newly developed (I think, anyway, who the hell knows? Not any of the doctors I've seen) sinus headache issues, as well as any number of other job and family chores, I wasn't able to churn through at least a hundred pages of something every day like I've been pretty used to doing for the last twenty years. But there's people in this world with real problems, and I'm related to some of them, so it's time to stop whining that "I can't read as much as I used to and it is making me depressed!" and move on. So let's stick a fork in 2018 and make it official with this "Best Books I Read in 2018" list. The links below go to my reviews of each book.
Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist. Actually, I liked Bad Feminist: Essays a lot more than I thought I was going to. It made me think. It made me look at a few things differently. That's why I read essays. And, God love her, Roxane Gay dares to say, when men ask her if she's on the pill, "No. Are you?"
Stacy Horn, Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York. Stacy Horn is the hardest working, most thoughtful, most rigorously dedicated to good fact-checking nonfiction author we currently have. Go read the conversation I was lucky enough to have with her this year, and then go read all her books.
Peter Maas, Serpico. About whistle-blowing NYPD cop Frank Serpico. What a great read. Technically I read it in 2017, but hey, this is my list so I make the rules.
In addition to losing productivity as a reader, I also lost productivity as a writer this year, which was not a direction in which I wanted to go. I read a lot of nonfiction that I never got around to blogging about. I would finish a book, give it some thought, put it on my table to write about it, where...it eventually went overdue and I just had to return it to the library. One of those books was David Sedaris's latest essay collection Calypso. I've never really been a huge Sedaris fan, and I tend to like him most when he is writing essays about his large and completely (and I mean this in the nicest way, coming from a similar family myself) BATSHIT INSANE family members. Guess what? A lot of the essays in Calypso are about his family! There's also an essay in it about how strangers speak with one another and how (what I'll call) "marketing speak" fills up most of our conversations, and I just laughed the whole time I read it. Then I cried a little bit because the laughter wore me out and the essay was just so good, so gentle, so everything I wish my essay writing could be. Well played, Sedaris.
Last but not least I read a memoir titled Infidelity, by Ann Pearlman. It is a memoir of an entire life, and a big issue: that of the history of the men in her family to be unfaithful to their wives (which happened to her grandmother, her mother, and herself). I didn't expect to like it. It was, in its way, depressing as hell. But it was also really, really good. I mean, look at that cover. I hardly ever include pictures on this blog anymore but I had to share this one--it's a perfect cover and it's perfect for the book. Anyone else read it? I'd love to hear others' thoughts. I don't even remember where I found it, except that I think maybe I read something else online by or about Ann Pearlman? Ah, it's hell, getting old.
That said, here's to another year of all of us getting older together. As long as we continue to read good books together and chat them up here, I'll be happy with 2019. Thanks, as always, for reading, not only this blog, but in general. Reading is good for you. Now get out there and spread the word.